Cybersecurity Leaders From Maersk and Westfield Insurance Discuss Digital Transformation at Major Industry Event

February 13, 2019
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4 min read

In June 2017, the cybersecurity world changed. As soon as NotPetya began infecting systems in Ukraine and spreading across Europe and beyond, it became clear that the intent of this worm wasn’t espionage, distributing malware or holding data for ransom. Rather, it was designed to destroy data, shut down systems and create havoc.

One of the most severely impacted organizations was global shipping giant Maersk, which transports 20 percent of the world’s trade goods. When Maersk’s systems went down, it sent shockwaves around the world and caused security observers to shudder. NotPetya was apparently a cyberweapon launched against Ukraine, but a far greater number of countries and organizations became collateral damage.

It was a wake-up call for Maersk, according to Andy Powell, who joined the company as its new chief information security officer (CISO) in June 2018, a year after the NotPetya attack.

“What Maersk was very strong at was our ability to recover,” Powell said in a fireside chat with IBM Security General Manager Mary O’Brien on Tuesday, the opening night of the 2019 IBM Think conference. “Balancing business resilience with preventative measures means that any company can address some of these high-end attacks, but you’ve got to accept that some of them are going to get through. And therefore, you need to be able to recover your business.”

While cybersecurity inevitably changed in the wake of NotPetya, it’s continuing a rapid transformation as businesses digitize and create ever more data. O’Brien and Powell discussed these profound shifts during their chat, along with Kevin Baker, CISO of Westfield Insurance, who underscored the impacts of digital transformation on data security, risk and compliance.

Watch the video from Think 2019

Lessons in Resiliency and Agile Security

In the age of cloud and connected everything, the volume of data being produced has exploded, along with opportunities for greater insights, innovation and new business models. This digital transformation has broad implications for security.

“Our clients want to know where their containers are, they want to know what part of the process is involved, they want to know information around what they’re moving,” Powell said. “We can provide that as part of the transformation.”

To secure digital innovation for clients, alongside its legacy systems, Maersk’s security team has taken an agile approach. Security is frequently seen as a roadblock to innovation, Powell said. Bringing together project teams and the security organization helps speed innovations to market by building security into the process from the beginning.

“The reality is the security people need to be working with them in those teams to actually integrate security from day one, and that’s starting to really pay off, because we’re no longer seen as the outsiders,” Powell said. “We’re seen as somebody who is prepared to adopt the culture and work with them. That teamed approach is very important.”

Focus on Data Security, Risk and Compliance

Ohio-based Westfield Insurance, with $4.9 billion in assets, has been in business since 1848. That means “a lot of data,” Baker said during the Think fireside chat.

“Because of digitization, it’s a veritable explosion of data. Our job is to know what data we have, where it is, how many copies of it we have, where it’s moving, who can access it and what the criticality of that data is so we can focus on data that has a regulatory import,” Baker said.

Baker’s team focuses on governance and risk, monitoring existing regulations like the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) cybersecurity regulation. And they look to the horizon for emerging compliance risks, such as California’s data privacy law, which will take effect in January 2020.

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) follows in the footsteps of the European Union (EU)’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with strict data privacy mandates, including a “right to be forgotten,” whereby companies will be required to destroy certain types of customer data.

“‘Forget me’ is a new capability that we have to solve for,” Baker said. “So we’re looking for ways that we can tag the data, move the security control down at the data element, and use the same tagging and process in multiple ways. It’s more than data classification, but it starts there.”

How Can Digital Transformation Help Reduce Complexity?

Digital transformation in business — through the adoption of technologies such as the cloud, artificial intelligence, and mobile and smart devices — has had major implications for the security industry as well. Although security products have made strides in protecting businesses beyond the traditional firewall, complexity is a hidden cost of innovation.

“We believe the No. 1 challenge is the complexity that we — the vendors and our clients — have jointly created,” O’Brien said during her chat at the IBM Think conference, her first as IBM Security general manager. “We got here because we let the latest threat of the day or requirement drive our technology and our strategy. So every time there was a new attack, a new merger, a new regulation, we created a new tool.”

The second problem of security innovation, O’Brien added, is that these products are created, purchased and deployed in silos. They are not integrated and don’t naturally talk to each other. According to O’Brien, it’s time to eliminate this complexity to enable business innovation and transformation.

This past October, IBM Security launched IBM Security Connect, a simple, open and connected cloud platform that can automatically access security data no matter where it resides. This enables security teams to take advantage of existing investments, from IBM or other vendors, without compromising effectiveness.

“You have insights today, but not total insights,” O’Brien said. “But because Connect can tap into your existing data wherever it is, you will see the full picture of your security situation without having to migrate your data or manually integrate it.”

For his part, Baker said limiting the number of tools but integrating them across multiple vendor systems is key to making strides toward his team’s data security goals.

“We elected to use not more security tools, but fewer security tools. We chose tools that were on their own pretty powerful, things like IBM’s QRadar and Guardium. Then we integrated that with other vendors,” Baker explained. “We use these tools to create our own link and do our own analysis. Not just the net-new data, but even the legacy data, and then to analyze that data as a single unit, to track the most critical data. We know that we can’t track it all. We need to zero in on what’s important.”

John Zorabedian
Content Marketing Manager, IBM Security

John Zorabedian is a writer, content marketer, blogger and editor at IBM Security. He has a background in journalism and marketing, with seven years of exper...
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